27 workers killed on farms last year, new health & safety figures show

Agriculture is the most dangerous industry in the UK, with fatal injury rates far outstripping all other occupations. Workers in farming are 18 times more likely to die at work than the overall industry rate.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has today released its annual figures for work-related fatalities, as well as the number of people known to have died from the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma, in 2015.

27 fatal injuries to agricultural workers were recorded.  It has the highest rate of fatal injury of all the main industry sectors, around 18 times as high as the all industry rate, said the HSE.

The figures show that agriculture is the most dangerous industry in the UK. Construction is the next most dangerous occupation, but it has rates of fatal injuries four times higher than the overall industry rate, a figure far lower than agriculture.

The new figures also highlight the risks to older workers – around a quarter of fatal injuries in 2016/17 were to workers aged 60 or over, even though such workers made up only around 10% of the workforce.

There were also 92 members of the public fatally injured in accidents connected to work in 2016/17. Almost half of these occurred on railways with the remainder occurring across a number of sectors including public services, entertainment and recreation.

HSE Chair Martin Temple said: “We deal daily with the causes and consequences of work-related deaths, injuries and ill health. Today’s updated figures continue to inform our understanding of which areas we need to target.”

“We concentrate our interventions where we know we can have the biggest impact. We hold dutyholders accountable for managing the risks they create in the workplace. This benefits workers, business performance, the economy and wider society alike.”

Farm safety was one of the main topics at the latest NPA producer group meeting. NPA chairman Richard Lister said: “This is a very sobering set of figures for the whole of the agricultural industry.

“I think as producers, owners and managers, we all have to consider if we are doing everything within our control to avoid the prospect of accidents occurring. The involvement of all staff in this process will be key to affecting change and enabling us to create a safe working environment.”

To see the feature on farm safety that appeared in the July edition of Pig World, click here.

NFU vice president, and chairman of the Farm Safety Partnership, Guy Smith, said: “Although the number of agricultural worker deaths has dropped slightly, and we welcome the continued downward trend, twenty seven people losing their lives is still too many. Agriculture continues to have the highest rate of fatal injury in relation to the number of people employed.

“The fatalities rate per 100,000 employed in agriculture is 7.6% compared to an all industry average of 0.43% and we want to see this reduced.

“Safety should be a priority for all British farmers and we are encouraged by the measures that our members are taking to assess risks. The NFU fully supports activities that are making farms safer places and is working closely with industry partners to improve safety awareness.”



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